“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

Recent Posts

Shanghai Moves to Ensure Independent Bookstores Toe the Line

By Bruce Humes, July 19, '17

Sad to learn that the last Jifeng Bookstore (季风), located at the Shanghai Library metro station, will close its doors in January 2018, according to the South China Morning Post. The original opened at Shanghai’s South Shaanxi Road metro station in 1997, and a string of other branches followed over the next decade.

It was during a break from my busy China speaking tour in 2000 about how importers abroad were using the Internet to source China-made goods, that right there in the South Shaanxi station I happened upon a copy of the very naughty 上海宝贝, the first Chinese novel I was to translate (Shanghai Baby). If it hadn’t been banned by then, it was certainly banned quickly thereafter.

The SCMP makes it clear that Jifeng is closing because the Shanghai authorities continually interfere with its efforts to host seminars and the like, events often referred to as 文化沙龙. This puts the few remaining independent booksellers in a bind: Book sales are increasingly monopolized by online vendors and massive Xinhua Bookstores, yet when independents try to branch out into other types of products and services — à la Eslite in Taiwan (诚品书店) — they are thwarted by the local culture department.

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“I Am Fan Yusu”: Speeding Up Time-to-Market

By Bruce Humes, May 30, '17

It can take several years for a piece of Chinese fiction to reach the English-speaking world. But thanks to publication in Chinese on the Internet — and translators working from it rather than the printed book — it looks like this time-to-foreign-reader can be radically reduced. Hopefully, this will help outsiders more quickly grasp what is going on in the “black box” that is China.

Reports Manya Koetse: “I Am Fan Yusu” went viral on Chinese social media in late April 2017. The author has since gone into hiding and her essay has been removed.

In some ways, the popularity of the essay in China is comparable to the recent hype over Alex Tizon’s essay “My Family’s Slave” on Western social media; this non-fiction story about ‘Lola’ Eudocia Tomas Pulido from the Philippines, who lived as a modern slave with an American family for 56 years, went viral on Twitter and Facebook in May. It gripped its many readers for exposing poignant problems in modern-day society that usually stay behind closed doors.

Fan Yusu’s account, in its own way, also revealed the harsh realities of an ever-changing society. China has an estimated 282 million rural migrant workers. The autobiographical tale focuses on the difficult childhood and adult life of one person . . .

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Translation Workshop, Hong Kong 20th June 2017

By Nicky Harman, May 24, '17

I'm running a translation workshop at Baptist University in Hong Kong on Tuesday 20th June 2017. We'll be working on a short piece of text from Jia Pingwa's novel 《高兴》. The event is free but please register by Monday 5th June to receive the text. Contact: cpw@hkbu.edu.hk and put Translation Workshop in the subject line.

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Translate in the City, Summer School in London, 26th-30th June 2017

By Nicky Harman, March 27, '17

Literary Translation in Practice 26th - 30th June 2017, City University London
Are you a practising professional or a newcomer to the art of translation?
Develop your translation skills under the guidance of top professionals at a central London campus. An immersion course in literary translation into English across genres - including selections from fiction. poetry, history, essays, journalism, travel and academic writing - taught by leading literary translators and senior academics, with plenty of opportunities for networking.
• Arabic - Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
• Chinese - Nicky Harman
• French - Trista Selous and Frank Wynne
• German - Shaun Whiteside
• Italian - Howard Curtis
•Japanese-Angus Turvill
• Polish - Antonia Lloyd-Jones
• Portuguese - Daniel Hahn
• Russian - Robert Chandler
• Spanish - Peter Bush
• Swedish - Kevin Halliwell
Evening programme (attendance free): French Translation Slam with Frank Wynne and Ros Schwartz; Keynote Lecture Who Dares Wins by Professor Gabriel Josipovici; Author/translator Daniel Hahn on Translation and Children's Books and a buffet supper at local gastro pub sponsored by Europe House with a talk by Paul Kaye, Europe House Languages Officer.
Full fee: £520. Bursaries available.
Directors Amanda Hopkinson (Visiting Professor in Literary Translation. City, University of London) and French literary translator Ros Schwartz
Please note: All translation is into English and English needs to be your language of habitual use. All evening and lunchtime events are free and attendance is voluntary. The organisers reserve the right to cancel a workshop that does not recruit to the required minimum number of participants. Any applicants for these groups will be notified with a minimum six weeks' notice.

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GLLI (28) - On a cold December evening I headed to the Free Word Centre in London, to do something I had never tried before

By Helen Wang, February 28, '17

This is the last day in February, and our last post in the Global Literature in Libraries - Paper Republic series on Chinese literature. Thank you for following us! We're very grateful to all our contributors - we couldn't have managed a post a day without you! So far, all our contributors have a strong Chinese connection. But Chinese literature is not just for Chinese readers - so we asked Marinella Mezzanotte, a London-based writer (in English) and a translator (from Italian to English), who is a newbie to Chinese literature to tell us about one of our events and whether it worked for her. In December 2016 she came along to our second speed bookclub event organised by Paper Republic and the Free Word Centre in London. Here's Marinella's response:

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GLLI (27) - Raiding China's Tomb Adventures - by Xueting Christine Ni

By Helen Wang, February 27, '17

Our penultimate post is about popular Chinese fiction of the ghostly, grave-robbing kind. We are thrilled to post this piece by writer and translator Xueting Christine Ni, who is currently working with the fantasy and science fiction author Tang Fei, and writing a book on Chinese deities. Having studied English literature in London, and Chinese literature in Beijing, she is now based mainly in the UK.

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GLLI (25) - St Gregory’s School ‘Reading China’ book group - by Theresa Munford

By Helen Wang, February 25, '17

Theresa Munford teaches Chinese at a secondary school in the UK. She took the initiative a few years ago to set up a Chinese book group. At a workshop on Chinese children’s literature in 2016 she played a video in which she interviewed two of her teenage students about the Chinese books they had read. They spoke frankly and eloquently about the books they had read. We invited Theresa to tell us more about the bookclub...

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